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West Lancashire farmers urged to secure their land as rural crime rises by 38%

Quad bikes, tools and livestock are the most commonly stolen items

Sheep at Windmill Animal Farm

Farmers in West Lancashire are being urged to make sure their farms are secure, following a 38% rise in rural crime in Lancashire.

The figures were released as part of NFU Mutual’s annual rural crime survey.

The 38% rise in rural crime is estimated to have cost local farmers around £1.8m, up from £1.3m in 2013.

Quad bikes, tools and machinery and livestock are the three most commonly stolen items from farms in Lancashire.

The county now has the fifth highest rural crime rate in the country, with the third highest amount of livestock thefts.

Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “We do this survey every year, and it has become incredibly valuable to the police, who don’t always separate rural crime from crimes from business premises.

“We believe the survey gives as clear a picture of rural crime as possible.

“Rural crime is becoming more and more of an issue.

“This year in particular we have noticed a large increase in the number of livestock thefts, with mainly sheep being reported stolen.

“Lancashire now has the third highest number of livestock thefts. We think this is possibly because of the good motorway links in the area that allow thieves to enter and leave the county quickly.

“The price of meat has also risen sharply and we believe thieves might also be trying to capitalise on this.

“We’re encouraging farmers to do three things, firstly ensure their farms are secure with tools locked away, secondly to install CCTV cameras and alarms and thirdly to establish a local network, so that if anyone sees anything suspicious they know who to contact.”

Meetings are being held throughout Lancashire next week to discuss livestock thefts, with the police, farmers and NFU Mutual coming together to discuss what can be done.

Matty Slinger, from Windmill Animal Farm, near Burscough, said: “We’ve been lucky and not had any sheep or livestock stolen, but it’s definitely a problem on the rise.

“It used to be something that just used to happen in northern Lancashire, but it’s becoming more of a problem here now. I heard some animals were stolen from the Hesketh Bank area recently, which is worrying.

“You see it reported more and more on Facebook and social media. Fly-tipping is another huge issue we’ve faced.

“We had to put more gates up to stop people entering our land; thieves are definitely targeting rural areas.”

Have you had items stolen from your farm? Call Sophie on 01704 398269.